NMSU faculty members attend NASA forum

Writer: Margaret Kovar

The Aug. 25 launch of the space shuttle Discovery may have been delayed by the weather, but two New Mexico State University faculty members are still thrilled to have been invited to Discovery’s 37th mission launch.

NASA Forum

New Mexico State University faculty members Susan Brown, left, and Steven Stochaj with a flight suit Brown received after finishing an astronaut training experience for educators

Susan Brown, College of Education director of STEM Outreach for the Institute for Excellence in Math and Science Education, and Steven Stochaj, professor of electrical and computer engineering, were invited to the launch as part of the NASA Education Forum held in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Aug. 24-25. The launch managers said they would try again Aug. 26.

Brown and Stochaj were chosen to attend the forum based on their involvement in NASA and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs at NMSU. Brown is involved in the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Aerospace Academy (SNM SEMAA), the NASA Explorer School and many other STEM outreach programs, while Stochaj is the recipient of a NASA research grant.

Only 35 people from universities across the nation were invited to the launch and forum, which was titled, “Building Bridges among Higher Education Institutions and NASA.” Brown and Stochaj presented a case study during the forum about best practices for building collaborations between science and engineering in the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering and the College of Education.

“It is nice that they have included the university in something like this and I hope through our presentation we can make a difference in the way NASA views institutions like NMSU,” Stochaj said.

Participants also had the opportunity to listen to speakers from the Johnson Space Center and the NASA Office of Education, along with networking and sharing ideas with other educators.

“I’m excited for this opportunity at this time in my career. Talking about our experiences and brainstorming with others allows us to make our programs just that much stronger,” Brown said.

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